It's well-documented what Rebel freshman Offensive Tackle Bradley Sowell went through after signing a scholarship with Ole Miss last February.
In case you don't know, Sowell, a Hernando native, lost 60 pounds off his 6-8 frame, from 367 to his current weight of 307, and he can tell the difference.
"I don't get tired any more and I'm much quicker and faster," said Sowell, who will redshirt this year. "My flexibility is much better. I can bend better. I'm a different person, physically."
As a result, Bradley has been able to compete and hold his own in his first year of collegiate football. Had he not lost the weight and adjusted to it when he did, this year may not have gone as well.
"Things are going well. I'm using this year to learn the offense and learn technique," Sowell explained. "It's been a great learning experience for me and I can feel myself getting better. I am better now than when I came here, for sure."
The rule of thumb for most incoming offensive linemen is that it is ideal to get a redshirt year to learn and adjust. Sowell has benefitted form his early tenure.
"Everything is more complex, more in-depth. There is so much more to learn than what you do in high school," he continued. "There are so many 'what ifs.' In high school, you basically had a man to block and you blocked him. Here, the defenses are constantly adjusting and you have to know what to do - without hesitation - when things change in midstream. There are a lot more line calls on this level and good communication is a must. Everyone has to be on the same page in order to get it right."
Bradley's task is to keep learning and get hitting the weight hard.
"I'm getting strong and have made some huge jumps in my lifts, but when I lift with the veteran offensive linemen, it's apparent I'm a freshman," he said. "But I'm making progress and I just try to look at it philosophically. I am in the same place they were when they were freshmen.
"You make the biggest jumps in strength gains your first and second years. It's all about proper technique in lifting. When you lift with the right technique, your numbers start shooting up until you reach a certain level and then your gains are a little less, but steady."
Sowell feels tackle is the correct position for him.
"I'm a good athlete, so tackle suits me. This spring, there will be Michael Oher, Mo Miller and me at tackle, so I'll probably be playing both tackle spots and learning them both. I'm excited about that," he said.
From a technique standpoint, Bradley went into a little more detail about his needs.
"It's all about landmarks and being precise with your steps, your hand placement and your hat placement," he stated. "Like I said before, you go hit your guy in high school and that is that. Here, if you are running a zone play, you have to stretch it and to do that you have to have great technique against the athletes we face on the defensive line in this league."
Sowell came to Ole Miss very confident and even though he's not going to play as a true frosh, he remains confident in his future.
"I love the game of football and believe in my ability. I'm athletic and I like to get after it. I like to get mean with it," he closed. "I really believe I will help the OL next year, hopefully a lot."
Bradley Sowell -
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